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Karl Takac Sr., Tuyet Takac, Karl Takac Jr., Laura Hebert-Takacs
Pho Tau Bay
As a young GI during the Vietnam War, Karl Takacs once ate seven bowls of pho tai — a noodle soup served with slices of rare beef — in a single sitting at one of Saigon’s fourteen Pho Tau Bay soup shops. Karl loved that bowl of broth and noodles, and he eventually fell in love with the shop-owner’s daughter, Tuyet. Karl and Tuyet married in 1973, and soon moved to the United States. Her father, Vu Van Y, lost every one of his restaurant locations by war’s end. A few years later, they began selling her father’s pho recipe from a flea market concession stand across the river from New Orleans. The area’s uprooted and exiled Vietnamese residents, hungry for a taste of home, flocked there for pho. The family opened a restaurant in 1982: calling it Pho Tau Bay to honor the chain that Tuyet’s father once owned. Over the next two decades the family added five locations to their mini-empire, to become New Orleans’s favorite pho shop. Hurricane Katrina closed all but the original location. A decade later, 0n February 14, 2015, the Takacses closed that first location to make way for a Wal-Mart. But a new Pho Tau Bay is in the works, to open in the Central Business District by summer’s end, 2015.